20 entrepreneurs took the stage at Raleigh’s Contemporary Art Museum Monday afternoon to pitch their seven startups to a room packed with investors, entrepreneurs and corporate executives. The Demo Day wrapped up the first cohort of the inaugural Citrix Accelerator Innovators Program in Raleigh. More on the significance of the program to North Carolina’s capital city here.
December 10, 2014
7 B2B Startups Built at Raleigh’s Citrix Accelerator
Recapping the pitches from innovators in the inaugural Citrix Accelerator in Raleigh.
The seven (including two internal Citrix teams) were chosen from a pool of 64 teams from around the nation to receive $25K grants, office space and mentorship from Citrix workers and investors and entrepreneurs in the local startup community. Below, learn more about the teams, technologies and traction built over three months in the program.
Founder Ryan O’Donnell had a lot to celebrate yesterday. Earlier in the day, NC IDEA named the NC State senior among five grant winners, providing funds to help him grow the talent recruitment platform he tested and launched during the accelerator.
EMPLOYUS lets startups and other high-growth businesses promote open jobs and anyone refer friends, colleagues or family members they think are qualified to fill them. The companies provide a reward to the winning referrer, and O’Donnell thinks in return, those companies will get workers who are better qualified, more passionate and longer-lasting than those recruited in traditional ways.
O’Donnell and co-founder Jeff Stocks interviewed 56 hiring managers throughout the program and learned that referrals continue to be the best source of talent. The site is now live with 14 companies (including Citrix Sharefile) and 30 jobs open on the platform. Those companies are offering more than $58,000 in prizes for winning referrers.
O’Donnell expects to start raising a seed round in January.
Savii Care is the first product of Raleigh startup Akili Software, founded by former health care executive Michelle Harper and co-founder Jana Barile.
Akili has spent most of this year developing software that replaces the disparate platforms that home health care companies use today to organize their workforce and care. Savii Care is a comprehensive web and mobile application that is HIPAA and Affordable Care Act compliant and includes all client information, scheduling, GPS validation (when a caregiver arrives or leaves the home), task lists and e-signatures.
Three agencies are now testing the platform and 20 have asked to be notified when it goes live in January. In the Citrix program, Akili’s founders conducted 60 interviews to validate that existing platforms weren’t providing the usability and functionality that agencies and caregivers needed to schedule and manage their work each day.
The team also found a market size of 13,000 agencies around the nation. Early testers at Nurse Care of NC and Coastal Home Care have lauded the platform.
The founders have set a goal to sign up 150 accounts in 2015, with monthly subscription prices based on the number of active clients. Harper expects to earn $1.2M in revenue within a year. But to hit that goal, she’s looking for capital. Once the minimum viable product is complete this month, she’ll turn her attention to fundraising.
A pair of Citrix Sharefile employees spent three months working on a concept they dreamt up at their day jobs, a solution to the email problem.
What problem? The fact that co-founder Grady Slane, a product marketing specialist, found 296 emails in his inbox after Thanksgiving weekend and it took several hours to sift through them. Data shows the average person spend two hours a day sending and responding to email.
The pair knew of other email management solutions, but interviews with 68 customers proved those still weren’t doing the trick. Re:BAR is designed to categorize emails based on importance, and in a way that is personalized to the user. It gets smarter the more it is used. It also works with multiple inboxes, and on any device.
The founders expect to offer Re:BAR free, but with upgrades for more tailored experiences for certain types of workers. They hope to also integrate with other Citrix products to provide more value to the corporation’s enterprise customers.
Citrix let Slane and co-founder Michele Pavone spend the time validating the concept and learning from mentors and coaches at the Citrix Accelerator. An executive committee will decide whether the pair (and several co-workers) can continue to work on the project in the months to follow.
The second set of Citrix intrapreneurs wanted to make it easier to share screens in conference rooms (despite the many sophisticated audio/visual technologies on the market). And 65 customer interviews during the accelerator proved a need.
They wanted a solution as simple as Apple TV or Chromecast that didn’t require wires or cords. So the Citrix innovators designed a simple hardware device and a software platform that allows screencasting from any device to any display, making it easier for employees to work and collaborate remotely using various technologies and devices.
The company’s founders are Sophia Su, a Citrix Sharefile product manager since the company had 20 employees, and Adam Ismail, a cloud engineer who built his first computer at age 13. If approved by Citrix to continue, the pair hope to manufacture Castr devices and sell them on Amazon, at retailers like Best Buy, as well as airport kiosks. They’ve priced the device at $89.
Founded by two engineers with decades of experience in digital video, Mindset Systems used three months in the accelerator to talk to potential customers and launch CrowdChannel. It’s a solution for event organizers to aggregate video from various event attendees, with sophisticated technology that knits the videos together factoring time, content, location (or point-of-view) and social clues. The end result is a production that can be shared and distributed after an event. It all happens in real time, without requiring server space.
Founders are Michael Conway, a recent Triangle transplant from Silicon Valley, and Mark Abbate, an MIT graduate who lives in Boston. There are a dozen or more competitors in the space, so the men spent the months previous to the innovators program developing proprietary technology and securing intellectual property.
The program then forced them to talk to customers, and they have several pilots lined up for the first half of 2015 as a result. They expect the service to be offered for $250/year to event producers, and as a free app to event attendees.
Another digital video concept, JoosyCloud responds to the growing demand for streaming video. A market worth $4B today, it’s expected to triple in the next few years. That could mean slower video speeds and poorer quality using existing content delivery networks. JoosyCloud works as a search engine for bandwidth, looking across all users (or viewers of a video) for available bandwidth to improve the speed and quality of a video.
Founder and CEO Juan Benito has already lined up pilots with Epic Games and WRAL (owned by ExitEvent parent company Capitol Broadcasting Co.). Netflix, Lockheed Sims and Bluejeans have also expressed interest in using JoosyCloud for streaming video online or at live events. Benito, a game designer and co-founder of now-defunct Joystick Labs, has partnered with other digital media professionals on the project: Jason Bradicich of the digital agency Adena Studios, Bill Gibson, a project manager at SAS, and venture capitalist Whitney Rowe.
This startup gets the award for the biggest pivot. Initial plans were nebulous but involved helping businesses more efficiently develop software. The new Userlite is a consumer and enterprise software that provides users a dashboard to access all of the applications and websites they use each day, accessed with a single password. The dashboard also aggregates all notifications, reminding users of new emails, social media updates, analytics reports and other messages from the sites they use daily.
Founders and serial entrepreneurs David Ogden of Hillsborough and Jacob Seethaler of Salt Lake City recounted the early days of the program, when they talked to customers and realized a need for something totally different than what they were building. So they started over and spent five days (and three cases of Red Bull) building a new MVP, and then sought feedback from potential users. 250 of their ideas led to at least 300 iterations of the product.
Now, they’ve got 225 users on the web platform, some of which are businesses paying license fees to offer the software to their employees. Businesses like that they can track usage of software platforms and easily off-board employees no longer with their companies, the founders say.
Work has begun on a mobile version too. And the men expect to hire additional developers to continue to build out the product.